Notebook: Reese makes instant impact for Gators

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Tennessee running back Tim Jordan, top center, is wrapped up by Florida defensive back Jeawon Taylor (29), linebacker David Reese II, front left, and lineman Malik Langham, center bottom, in the first half Saturday at Neyland Stadium in Knoxville, Tenn. [Wade Payne/Associated Press]

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Florida starting middle linebacker David Reese made an impactful return Saturday night against Tennessee after missing the first three games of the season with an ankle injury.

On his fifth play of the game, he recovered a fumble on the Vols’ 21-yard that was caused by rush end Jachai Polite’s hit on UT quarterback Jarrett Guarantano.

The early turnover led to a 1-yard TD pass from Feleipe Franks to tight end R.J. Raymond and set the turnover trend in UF’s favor for the rest of the half.

Moments later, defensive tackle Luke Ancrum intercepted a screen pass that led to a 1-yard TD run by Franks.

The Gators went on to recover two more fumbles in the first half.

Reese’s fumble recovery was not his only big play in the first half. He and Cece Jefferson combined to bring down UT tailback Tim Jordan in the end zone for a safety in the second quarter.

Reese, who is considered UF’s best run-stopping linebacker, had five tackles in the first half.

Hustlin’ Henderson

UF coach Dan Mullen has been stressing relentless effort since he arrived in Gainesville. And that’s exactly what cornerback CJ Henderson showed on a play that appeared would be a UT touchdown but turned into a touchback and a turnover.

On a fourth-and-one from the UT 45, Guarantano found tight end Austin Pope all alone behind the UF secondary. It looked like it was going to be a TD as he raced down the sideline, but Henderson, perhaps the Gators’ fastest player, blazed across the field and hit Pope inside the 5-yard line. The ball popped out and bounced through the back of the end zone for the touchback.

UF fans stay away

Playing Tennessee in Knoxville used to be a big draw for Florida fans looking to travel to a game.

Things have obviously changed.

There was very little blue in the sea or orange at Neyland Stadium on Saturday night.

UT made 7,500 tickets available to UF this summer, but the school asked for only 2,700. UF ended up returning about 200 unsold tickets to Tennessee. The single-game tickets UT made available to Florida were $105 each.

For last year’s game in The Swamp, Tennessee sold only about 3,700 of the 8,500 tickets that were available to the school by UF.

Reunion night in Neyland

Assistant coaches from both schools had a chance to reunite with their former team and players.

Chris Rumph, the UT co-defensive coordinator and defensive line coach, spent the past three seasons as the Gators’ defensive line coach. He was also the co-offensive coordinator last season.

Three UF assistants were making a return to Neyland Stadium — tight ends coach Larry Scott, defensive line coach Sal Sunseri and cornerbacks coach Charlton Warren.

Scott and Warren held the same coaching responsibilities with the Vols last season. Sunseri was the UT defensive coordinator in 2012.

Warren was asked last week if it would be weird returning to Neyland Stadium.

“No. No it will not be,” he said.

This, that and the other

For only the second time in the UF-UT rivalry, both schools have new head coaches. The first time came in 1970, when Doug Dickey went from Tennessee to his alma mater (Florida) and Bill Battle took over the UT program. It was not a happy return to Knoxville for Dickey, whose Gators were thrashed 38-7. … Four true freshmen have started games for the Vols this season, three in the secondary — safety Trevon Flowers, cornerback Alontae Taylor and cornerback Bryce Thompson. The other freshman starter has been offensive guard Jerome Cavin. … Heading into Saturday night’s game, UT’s all-time record on ESPN stood at 38-31-2. … The Vols honored their 1998 national championship team in a halftime ceremony. UT beat UF 20-17 in overtime that year. … UT’s coaching staff has combined to win 13 national championships and 20 conference championships. … UF’s game captains Saturday night were senior offensive tackle Martez Ivey and senior rush end Cece Jefferson.

12 COMMENTS

  1. Glad to see r j raymond score that touchdown. My kind of gator.
    Our defense also looks a very good gator defense and the special teams too. When Can we dispense with the poor mouthing? We have a solid program and I like our chances next week just like I thought we would win today. Sometimes you get more breaks than you need like today and sometimes you can’t get one when you need it like Kentucky but I like this team and I like the qb in spite of his faults.

  2. I would never go to a UT game, there are many rumors of people being assaulted after our victory, or even just for being a Gator. In addition I have been at the stadium when no game was coming it is an ugly large structure. I have gone to Vandy game and enjoyed it mostly, been to KY and except for one idiot and Tebow getting hurt had a good time. Been to the Sugar bowl several times over years and the SEC championship once. Enjoyed them. No to UT game at their place, they are not good hosts.

  3. Knew we were going to win. Really didn’t have a doubt. We had the better passing game, better athletes, better receivers, better special teams, and much better defense.

    I also thought we were so much more well conditioned than UT was too. The last couple of years the Vols seemed to push us around on both sides of the line of scrimmage a lot, but not this year… we pushed them around like UK pushed us around a couple of weeks ago.

    Kept saying UT was in far worse shape than UF was in a rebuilding sense. It will take the Vols two years longer to rebuild than it will take UF.

    Good game by the Gators. Got a little sloppy in the third quarter, but when the Gators knew they had to punch in another score to make sure it was put away, they did just that.

    You can see the slow improvement on this team, but they need to keep getting better because going into Starkville against a wounded Miss. St. team scares me to death. I thought Uk exposed some big chinks in MSU’s armour last night, and we need to take full advantage of them next Saturday.

    Right now, I think the MSU game is a toss up that will come down to turnovers and special teams play.

    • I do not agree, MsSt should never have been ranked as their 1st 3 games were against cupcakes. UK was their 1st true test and they failed miserably, it exposed them as not very good. We have that game in hand. As it stands now we will also win vandy, idaho and FSU. Maybe Mo, need to see more of them and after next weeks SC/Uk game we should be able to predict our SC game. I dont believe we would beat Ga or LSU. As luck would have it we have a very easy schedule this year.

  4. Regarding the lack of UF fans… Sure gator fans do not travel well but Knoxville is a different story. I have been to every SEC stadium and UT is the worst. Bad stadium, worse fans, and obnoxious students. I have been to 3 gator games in Knoxville and I will never go back there. I even had a hotel clerk be rude because my group arrived wearing orange and blue. 105 is not atypical for a big game, but I would not go back to Neyland if someone gave me a free ticket.

    Knowxville is the only place I feel this way about.

    • I’ve been to Knoxville for lots of games, including ’98 when it felt like that big stadium may fall down when they won to break a streak. My experience there has been about the same as every other place we’ve gone, about 99% of the fans are great, and students are always rowdy. There are a few obnoxious fans at every stadium/game, including the Swamp.
      But more importantly, it’s great to have David Reese back on the field!!